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Beneficiary Rights

Sep 08, 2021

Does It Matter if a Trust Is Revocable or Irrevocable? Yes, It Matters a Lot!

A recent decision issued by the Supreme Court of Alabama highlights the importance, for both creators and beneficiaries of trusts, of understanding whether a trust is Revocable or Irrevocable, and the consequences that flow from that distinction.   

Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts

Any trust has three players: a Settlor, a Trustee, and a Beneficiary. » Read More

Jun 01, 2021

The Importance of Exculpatory Language in Litigation against Fiduciaries

A recent ruling serves as a good reminder of the importance of assessing all aspects of a claim before taking the decisive action of filing a complaint. Particularly, when evaluating a potential claim against a corporate fiduciary, which often has more resources than most beneficiaries (whose legal fees may or may not be paid from the estate or trust), a beneficiary considering litigation must identify a legal cause of action; determine the evidence available to support each cause of action; plan how to obtain additional evidence that is required but may not be readily available; and, as the ruling emphasizes, understand the effect of any exculpatory language in the will or trust. » Read More

Feb 08, 2021

Understanding Your Duties as Attorney in Fact, and Three Practical Tips to Comply With Them

Most clients understand that the executor of an estate or trustee of a trust has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate or trust. This means, in general, that the executor or trustee is accountable to the beneficiaries to act only as directed by the Will or Trust, and the executor or trustee cannot seek to benefit himself at the expense of the beneficiaries. » Read More

Nov 02, 2020

Court Affirms That Children Cannot Sue on Behalf of a Parent Solely by Virtue of Being the Parent’s Child

A recent court decision stating that children do not have the legal standing to sue on behalf of their parents, simply by being their child and closest family member, reiterates the need for older parents and their adult children to engage in basic planning for the possibility of the parent experiencing a loss of capacity, or even diminished capacity, which could leave the parent vulnerable to exploitation. » Read More

Sep 24, 2019

Three Factors to Consider After the Death of a Joint Bank Account Owner

We have all heard the expression about the “poor man’s will” being created by adding children or spouses as joint owners of one’s assets, including bank accounts.

The rationale is that this avoids the judicial probate process by having all of one’s assets pass outside of probate, according to the joint designation. » Read More

Nov 07, 2018

James J. Costello, Jr. to Present on Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection

James J. Costello, Jr., a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., and Co-Chair of its Trust, Estate and Individual Tax Group, will be a featured speaker at “Using Trusts in Estate Planning and Asset Protection,” sponsored by The National Business Institute (NBI).  » Read More

Oct 18, 2018

I’m the Beneficiary of an Estate or Trust- Why Does the Bank Need My Personal Information?

You don’t need to be a tax lawyer or accountant to appreciate the government’s heightened efforts to crack down on tax fraud and money laundering.  Trust and estate beneficiaries need to be aware that those efforts may now impact them as well.  » Read More

Oct 17, 2018

Promised Inheritance? Make Sure It’s in Writing!

It’s a common scenario- a couple gets married, each having children from a prior relationship.  They each set up their Wills to provide for the surviving spouse and then for all their children, collectively, when they are both gone.  The understanding is that when one dies, the survivor will not modify or revoke the survivor’s Will in a way that diminishes the inheritance of the children of the spouse who dies first. » Read More

Oct 03, 2018

Are Conversations from Beyond the Grave Admissible in Estate Litigation?

Following our post about vampire blogs, as the calendar turns to October and we approach Halloween, we’ll take a quick look at another other-worldly topic: how the decedent’s voice is admissible in estate litigation from beyond the grave.

Parties and other witnesses in estate litigation will frequently rely on or reference conversations they claim to have had with the deceased; and the attorney who drafted the document at issue, such as the decedent’s will or trust, is often viewed as a critical witness.  » Read More

Aug 28, 2018

When Is a Joint Account Not Really a Joint Account? When It’s for “Convenience Only.”

Prior blog posts (here and here) have addressed the limits of a Will by identifying numerous assets that pass not by Will upon death, but by some other means.  For example, life insurance, retirement benefits, and annuities pass not according to the provisions of a Will, but based on the named beneficiaries in the applicable beneficiary designation.  » Read More